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Why Did Pope John Paul II Kiss the Koran?

Although a number of years have passed, many still wonder, why did Pope John Paul II kiss a Koran presented to him? The debate rages on.

FATHER JOE:

Is it not a book that speaks directly against the Catholic faith? Does it not reduce the Son of God to a mere prophet? Did not the popes of the past demand its burning? The answer to all these questions is YES, and yet what the Holy Father did was more complicated than what the anti-Catholic and/or sedevacantist spin-doctors might say about it.

One critic argues that it was a blasphemous act, showing his “hatred” of God and his apostate defection from the true faith. It was none of these things. The Pope is on the record about the differences between Catholics and the followers of Islam. Let us look at the situation. The Pope longed to go to Iraq in order to walk in the footsteps of Abraham, claimed as a “father in faith” by Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Pope John Paul II saw firsthand the depth of man’s inhumanity to his brothers and sisters. Our history as a world is written in blood. As illustrated in his repeated “mea culpa,” he strives for a new understanding between peoples where dialogue, tolerance, and cooperation will replace anathemas, persecution, and rivalry. Abraham is an integral figure of unity in turning things around politically. Looking at the incident in question, the Holy Father received a delegation that included the Shiite Imam of Khadum Mosque, the Sunni President of the council that operates the Iraqi Islamic Bank, and a member of the Iraqi Ministry of Religion. The invitation of a papal visit was renewed. They even went so far as to say that it would be “a grace from heaven.” While Iraq has been guilty of real violations of human rights, this Islamic state was the most tolerant of Christians than any of its Islamic neighbors. Many Catholics held positions in government, commerce, education, etc. The Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon (Iraq), His Beatitude Raphael I Bidawid, was a major spokesman for the delegation. He applauded the Pope’s actions and words as a true sign of concern from the Successor of St. Peter. (Christians represented 5% of the 20 million people in Iraq. Catholics of the large Chaldean rite [implementing the Aramaic language] and of the smaller Latin rite represented 80% of all Christians there.) It was said that a papal visit would confirm the faith of Christian believers while showing forth a genuine love for all in this mostly Muslim nation.

The Koran was a gift to him from the delegation. Islamic peoples are not casual in the giving of gifts. It represents the giver. They knew perfectly well that the Pope was a Catholic Christian, but they gave to him that which was regarded as most important in their life, their own holy book. Thus, at the end of the audience, the Pope showed his deep appreciation to this intimate self-donation, by bowing and kissing the Koran as a sign of respect. Such a gesture ran totally against the grain of crusades and condemnations. It did not mean that the Pope accepted all that was in the book, only that his love for the Muslim people, and the Iraqis in particular, was genuine. He makes the first move, not in the capitulation of our faith, but in the recognition that the followers of Jesus and those who cherish Mohammed should not be engaged in name-calling, or worse, killing each other. The Pope appreciated the suffering of the Iraqi people, particularly the women and children. It showed he did not look down upon them but had a genuine respect for them within the brotherhood of man.

DISCUSSION

COLETTE: I am thinking he does not know what the Koran says about Catholics. Was he pressured into it? Did he wrongly think this is was consistent with ecumenical dialogue or what? I cannot imagine any good reasons. There are none. Let’s face it— it was a crazy thing for a true Roman Catholic Pontiff to do. Would the leader of Islam do this with the Bible?

FATHER JOE: It seems to me that the Holy Father opted for the moral high ground. We cannot worry that such respect would not be reciprocal. His teachings clearly professed his faith in Jesus Christ. This gesture to the Koran is not dissimilar from his kissing the soil of nations he visited. It is a sign of human respect, but not a profession of faith or an imprimatur upon the Koran. The book was a visible symbol of a people and the Pope showed them welcome. It might also be seen as an invocation for peace between the Christians and Moslems.

RAY: I suspect that many of you do not know much about Islam. The Pope understood Islam and recognized the many messages we hold in common. People, who feel they must hate something, in order to love something else, are the reason why there are world wars and much suffering in the world.

FATHER JOE: True Christians hate sin, not sinners. One might show human respect to something like the Koran, particularly given its antiquity and meaning to so many; however, this is all a Christian and Jew can do. It is not our book. We neither acknowledge it as inspired nor as inerrant. We do not claim it as God’s Word. Indeed, it conflicts in many places with what God has genuinely revealed to us as his truth.

MANNY: It just goes to show that John Paul II saw the light before he died. I love this picture even though most so-called Christians are fearful of his simple act of kissing the Koran. He was a good man who had all the qualities of one who will go to heaven, even if he was not necessarily following God’s religion of choice. People in general need ever more to practice what they preach. We need inter-faith knowledge, understanding, and acceptance of other faiths. The religious hatred toward the Koran is very disturbing. This just goes to show that FEAR is the root of all evil. It is a shame that people from supposedly religious Christian backgrounds have commented in a very non-religious way about the Pope’s kissing of the Koran. He kissed the Koran out of respect, realizing that the three religions of the Middle East are not as dissimilar as some believe. He respected Islam. This is something that religious Christians should applaud and not criticize. Anyway, may he rest in peace.

LOLA: I read a third of the Koran and could not go any further when I read that a husband could hit his wife if she misbehaved. It is written that it is okay to kill Jews when they have been given two previous warnings. Jesus never said to kill anyone; he was the prince of peace. There are major contradictions! Well, I suppose I have read more of the Koran than most Moslems and more of the Bible than most Christians. The Pope kissing the Koran was not a wise thing to do. One can accept a copy of the Koran as a gift without compromising your own beliefs. This should especially be so for the Pope, who is the big honcho of the Catholic faith. Maybe the reason we have so many different religious beliefs is because God wants to test the tolerance of our hearts before we are taken home to him? One last comment, if you have half-doubted your faith then you have only half-believed. Just because your parents were of a certain religious faith, it does not mean that you should follow in their footsteps and maybe become a puppet on a string.

FATHER JOE: Christians can follow in the footsteps of parents and the long line of the saints and still not be puppets.  We, as Catholics, seek objective truth, both as revealed by God and in nature itself.

PAUL: I believe that what he did was an extremely spontaneous gesture of respect for Muslims, but not a belief in Islam per se. He was the kind of man who would even debase himself on behalf of others. If it were not a spur of the moment decision – if he had had time to think about it – he would not have done it because of the confusion it engendered. As the successor of Peter it is not his place to do such things. Like most of the fruits of Vatican II (thus far) it has caused more disorder and faithlessness than it has engendered. But because it was a holy act, just as it was a Holy Council, as Catholics, we should believe that it was ultimately good. An interpretation of it which enhances the faith will eventually prevail. The upcoming changes to the language of the Mass, the Motu Propio, etc. are the beginning of this with respect to Vatican II. But even clown masses and celebrants wearing cheese hats probably have a place in the Church of Christ. And popes make mistakes too. They are only human.

RYAN:

Kissing something is not necessarily a gesture of complete acceptance: It can signify love or respect. Think of this in the eyes of a Muslim. They are giving their most holy book, the holiest of their possessions to this man. To them, it is the word of God. What an honor for the Pope (or any person) to receive this most precious gift from them. His kiss was a show of respect and love for the Muslim people, not the Koran’s message itself.

My thoughts drift back to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Indy and his companions come to a very poor village where the people are starving. They are presented with food that would make most of our stomach’s turn. Still, when his companions are shy about eating, Indy urges them to eat anyway: the food offered is the equivalent to a week’s offering in the village.

Biblically, we can look at Luke 19:1-10 (among others) for guidance. Zacchaeus, though rich in possessions, realized the meaninglessness of hoarding his riches upon the arrival of Jesus. He gives half of his belongings to the poor, and pays back the extorted four times over. Upon seeing this, Jesus says: “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”

Always look at the giver, and not the gift. Jesus looked at the former, and all Christians should follow his example. His blessed Pope John Paul II followed his way, knowing full well that his obedience to Christ would cause him to be smeared. May we all be as brave as him.

MISTER JOE:

Wow, Father Joe!!! What a master stroke of Spin Doctoring Genius you display in your defense of the Pope’s kissing of the abominable book. I think you should go to work for the Democratic Party and tow Clinton’s line, “It depends on what you mean by ‘is.’”

Do you even have the slightest idea what is written in that book? For that matter, did the Pope have the foggiest idea what is written in it? What I have read in it is nothing less than satanic and demonic.

If you are really interested in knowing what the Quran says, then you must learn the Arabic language, and then find an un-sanitized copy of the Quran (in the Arabic language) and read it for yourself. A friend, who was working in Saudi Arabia, brought back to the USA a Quran he had obtained from a mosque, after befriending a mullah.

However, I seriously doubt that you will indulge in such undertaking.

FATHER JOE: I have read the Koran. Make no mistake about it; the book is full of errors and fanciful stories. Have you read it? Interpretation of the Koran is difficult because of inconsistencies. Some argue that earlier texts for mercy or toleration are superseded or made void by the later more harsh statements. Pope Benedict received death threats when he charged the Islamic community with disavowing violence. Unfortunately, the Koran is the source for such sentiments as espoused by the so-called Moslem extremists. Pope John Paul never said he agreed with the book or that it was inspired. He offered no act of worship or submission to a false religion. In the interest of peace, he welcomed his visitors by humbly accepting that which they most cherished. The kiss was not one of adoration but as in the liturgy, a kiss of peace. We can pray that it may have a transformative effect for good.

SIBYL: The true sons (and daughters) of Abraham are those that believe Jesus is The Christ, Savior and LORD, The I AM…that He is the Model, The Ikon of Man, Husband, Friend, Brother. See Matthew 3:9, Luke 3:8, John 8, Acts 3 and 13, Romans 9, Galatians 3.

FATHER JOE: Then what about the Jews?

SIBYL: John Paul II made a grave error in kissing the book Mohammed wrote.

FATHER JOE: Such was a gesture of human respect, not divine worship. His guests knew that. There can be no doubt that the late Pope was a Catholic and not a Moslem. While you can disagree about an act of courtesy, it would be wrong to view this as a grave religious error. Your fundamentalism is showing. I am reminded of a Protestant iconoclast insisting that kissing statues and images is idolatry.

SIBYL: Moreover, the Roman Catholic Church Catechism’s # 841 is extremely dangerous and misleading.

FATHER JOE:

[CCC 841] The Church’s relationship with the Muslims. “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.” (Lumen Gentium 16)

There is nothing outside of God’s providence, even the sins and errors of men. God’s will cannot be circumvented. While this speaks to the plan of salvation, the rest merely takes the Moslems at their word. They believe in one God. Monotheism is a higher and truer form of religion than polytheism. This is a basic appreciation from the philosophy of God. They look upon Abraham as their father, as do the Jews and in a spiritual way, as do Christians. The Pope and the catechism never say that Islam is fully a true religion. Such can be said for Catholic Christianity and for Judaism. All that is good in Judaism is embraced by the Church. Salvation comes from the Jews.

Moslems believe that God the Creator is the one true God who must be adored. They also believe that God is merciful and the final judge of all. Their religion has many errors, but about these essential points, we are in agreement. Notice how short the statement is. There is much about which we disagree. However, you would not even allow this small fragment of concurrence.

SIBYL: Mohammedism is a perverse mixture of the worship of the goddess of Ishtar, Judaism, and Christianity. Mohammedism produces a malevolent, mendacious, misogynistic male, full of hate, lust, lies and death, domination, bondage, war. In fact, Mohammedism produces the anti-christ, the opposite of Christ, who is Love, Truth and Life, who gives freedom, joy, life and peace.

FATHER JOE: There are plenty of antichrists in Christian garb as well. Anyone who sins and who refuses to repent is opposed to Christ.

SIBYL: Mohammedism is a metastasizing political religious system that does not tolerate or abide anything but domination and submission to its dictums and dogmas. You shall know them by their fruit.

FATHER JOE: (I suspect that given style transitions, you are quoting something.) Yes, but we should not be quick to judge. Further, we should not scapegoat an entire people because of the sins of a few. Some would judge of all Catholicism by the sinful acts of sick priests or by the abuses of Catholics in history.

WILLIAM: I can’t understand what’s so controversial about this event; it was a beautiful gesture by a beautiful man. If anyone could be seen as a great Christian, I think it would be the late Pope John Paul II. May he rest in peace.

CHRISTINE: I now know why our churches have emptied. We are no longer strong.

SHUKOUR: I believed there is no such thing in the Koran as a directive to kill Jews.

FATHER JOE:

Actually, there are directives in the Koran for what is apparently murder, both toward the Jew and the Christian. Often castigated as infidels or idolaters, the language is that of intolerance. Reconciliation is only recommended if one’s Judaism or Christianity is renounced for Islam. Radical Islam stresses such passages as below and does not cower from using violence for its ends:

[2.191] And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drove you out, and persecution is severer than slaughter, and do not fight with them at the Sacred Mosque until they fight with you in it, but if they do fight you, then slay them; such is the recompense of the unbelievers.

[3.28] Let not the believers take the unbelievers for friends rather than believers; and whoever does this, he shall have nothing of (the guardianship of) Allah, but you should guard yourselves against them, guarding carefully; and Allah makes you cautious of (retribution from) Himself; and to Allah is the eventual coming.

[3.85] And whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him, and in the hereafter he shall be one of the losers.

[5.33-34] The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement, except those who repent before you have them in your power; so know that Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (This literally means, convert or die! When Pope Benedict XVI recently recommended that world Islam denounce such violence, millions of protestors chanted and displayed signs, “Kill the Pope!”)

[8.12] When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, therefore make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.

[8.60] And prepare against them what force you can and horses tied at the frontier, to frighten thereby the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them, whom you do not know (but) Allah knows them; and whatever thing you will spend in Allah’s way, it will be paid back to you fully and you shall not be dealt with unjustly.

[8.65] O Prophet! urge the believers to war; if there are twenty patient ones of you they shall overcome two hundred, and if there are a hundred of you they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they are a people who do not understand. (This is sometimes translated as, “The unbelievers are stupid; urge the Muslims to fight them.”)

[9.5] So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

[9.28] O you who believe! the idolaters are nothing but unclean, so they shall not approach the Sacred Mosque after this year; and if you fear poverty then Allah will enrich you out of His grace if He please; surely Allah is Knowing Wise.

[9.29] Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.

[9.30] And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away! (Literally this is interpreted as “The Jews and the Christians are perverts; fight them.”)

[9.123] O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness; and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil).

[22.19-22] These are two adversaries who dispute about their Lord; then (as to) those who disbelieve, for them are cut out garments of fire, boiling water shall be poured over their heads. With it shall be melted what is in their bellies and (their) skins as well. And for them are whips of iron. Whenever they will desire to go forth from it, from grief, they shall be turned back into it, and taste the chastisement of burning. (Here torture against Jews and Christians is recommended.)

[47.4] So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then smite the necks until when you have overcome them, then make (them) prisoners, and afterwards either set them free as a favor or let them ransom (themselves) until the war terminates. That (shall be so); and if Allah had pleased He would certainly have exacted what is due from them, but that He may try some of you by means of others; and (as for) those who are slain in the way of Allah, He will by no means allow their deeds to perish. (This is sometimes translated as, “Do not hanker for peace with the infidels; behead them when you catch them.”)

SHUKOUR: Do you know that most of the prophets of Islam were Jews that include Jesus a.s., Moses a.s., etc.

FATHER JOE: No, I did not know that and the reason is simple, it is a lie. Moses and Jesus are embraced and reinterpreted by Islam, but they did not preach or teach the dictates of Islam. Islam was only founded by Muhammad in 622 AD. Although he argued that his was a restoration or purification of Judaism, historical research shows this contention cannot be sustained. Islam represented something new, although with many borrowed elements. Angered when Christian monks uncharitably expelled him as stupid from their community, Muhammad set off to create his own religion. He combined elements of the various tribal religions and their gods with that of the Jews and Christians. The majority of converts to Islam in its first days came from polytheistic tribal religions. A large number of deities were worshipped, including that of the moon and the goddess of the sun. Christians and Jews were initially invited into the movement, but Muhammad’s so-called revelations became increasingly antithetical to their beliefs and practices.

SHUKOUR: In the Koran, a chapter is devoted solely to Jesus a.s.’ mother, Mariam or Mary who happens to be Jewish.

FATHER JOE: Salvation comes from the Jews. Mary was a Jewish maiden. Muslims accept the Catholic teaching of her as a virgin giving birth to Jesus. However, despite the teachings of Christ and that of the apostles, they reject that he is both God and Savior. Jesus is much more than a prophet. He is the Way and the Truth and the Life. Muhammad could never get his head around the Trinity. Indeed, the Koran errs in its description of the Trinity as believed by Christians.

SHUKOUR: No mention of Muhammad s.a.w’s mother. We, Muslims should be angry that Muhamad s.a.w’s mother was not mentioned and considered to be the greatest mother and woman for Muslims to follow instead of Mary.

FATHER JOE: Muhammad was purported raised early on by a nurse. Halima. As a baby, Muhammad seemed to have epileptic seizures. It was feared that he was demon possessed. His mother took him back but then quickly died and he was passed off to his grandfather. Evidently, there is not much one can say about his mother. However, Muhammad had access to the Christian gospels. Luke especially, spoke a great deal about Mary. Such becomes a source text for Muhammad’s reworking.

SHUKOUR: But we Muslims accepted wholeheartedly and loved and revered Jesus a.s.’s mother to be followed especially in the concept of motherhood and the excellent characteristics of a woman accepted by God!

FATHER JOE: Yes and no, for while Muslims love and respect Mary to a certain degree, they would not understand her as the chief of the saints in offering intercession, and the full significance of the Catholic dogmas.

SHUKOUR: The Koran also mentioned that since Christians and Jews are peoples of the book; that we, Muslims, should engage them in the kindest manner and that Muslims should engage them in dialogues in a friendly manner.

FATHER JOE: Yes, there are places in the Koran where such sentiments are expressed. But then they are spoiled by sections espousing forced conversions and violence. Interpretation of the Koran is problematical. Since it is not consistent, some authorities argue that the later harsher stipulations overrule or abrogate the earlier statements for friendship. Unlike the Bible, where we see progressive revelation realized in Christ where the primitive harshness of the Old Testament is replaced with the admonition for love and mercy in the New, the Koran seems to grow more intolerant as Muhammad became increasingly frustrated and unsatisfied. Further, while as a priest I can show human respect to Muslims, Catholics neither believe that Muhammad was a prophet nor that the Koran was inspired or from God. This statement alone would earn a Christian (or Jew) imprisonment and maybe the death sentence in certain Islamic strongholds.

SHUKOUR: My dear friends, Muslims also revered Jesus a.s. and Muslim children were told fascinating stories about Jesus a.s., his birth, his mission etc.

FATHER JOE: Yes, and Christians would judge the refashioned stories as largely fiction.

SHUKOUR: Muslims revered Jesus a.s. second to Muhammad and the only difference with Christian belief is that Muslims believed that Jesus a.s. never dies on the cross but was taken up into heaven by God as God loved Jesus a.s. so much that he (God) did not want Jesus a.s. to suffer the torture.

FATHER JOE: Christians regard this as both as unsubstantiated and as blasphemous. We regard Muhammad as the founder of a new religion, but not as a prophet. Christians understand Jesus as a divine person with a complete human nature. Jesus suffers his passion and death as his great redemptive work to save us from our sins. Further, we believe that Jesus Christ conquered the grave by rising from the dead, ascending to the Father and now sits on his right hand, and that he sent his Holy Spirit to inspire and to protect his Church. Islam rejects the entire kerygma of salvation as understood by Catholics.

SHUKOUR: Muslims believe that Jesus a.s. is still in heaven and are eagerly waiting for him (Jesus a.s.) to return in order to bring peace in the “now troubled world” of ours.

FATHER JOE: Catholics believe that Jesus is in heaven but that as God he cannot be limited to heaven. We believe, as the true Scriptures and the sacred traditions of the Church teach; that he is present in the gathered assembly and Church; he is present in the Word proclaimed; he is present in his priests; and he is present in his sacraments and the Eucharist.

SHUKOUR: And also, Muslims do believe in the Bible brought by Jesus a.s. as words of God. It is believed as a holy book and is one of the cornerstones of the faith of Islam that include the Koran, Torah etc.

FATHER JOE: No, Muslims do not believe in the Bible. They approve of elements only. They place the authority of the Koran over that of the Bible.

SHUKOUR: That which is taught in the Bible, Torah, etc. is also contained in the Koran as a full guidance of a way of life approved by God!

FATHER JOE: There are purloined elements of the Bible in the Koran, as well as from the now defunct tribal religions which Muhammad encountered. However, the Koran rewrites, subtracts and adds to the biblical testimony.

SHUKOUR: My dear friends, I’m just sharing with you a bit about Islam, the Koran and about the Muslims so that we can avoid a misunderstanding.

FATHER JOE: I can well appreciate your effort, but from my perspective, and I say this respectfully, the misunderstanding is yours.

EYNAR: Is it so hard to understand? He was a real Muslim in his heart. To kiss the Koran is more than to accept it. So Christians, are you more clever and faithful than him? I really love him as a Muslim.

FATHER JOE: Really, it is not so hard to understand. There is no such thing as a “Muslim in his heart,” just a recognition by the Pope that the one God of Christians is the one God worshipped by Muslims. The Pope taught and lived the Catholic faith. His witness is part of the public record. As a Muslim you can love the late Pope. But while he also displayed human respect, he professed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He was the visible head of the Church established by Jesus. He believed in the Trinity, and thus that Jesus is divine and human.

CHUCK: I was fascinated with your collected, inspiring discussion and explanation of Christian teachings. My intent is to educate myself on the truths of Islam as my son has recently become fascinated with a young Muslim girl. I am torn by the impulse to protect him from becoming complacent in his religion in an effort to win her affection. On the other hand, he has been raised to love and accept all people. Although their relationship is still in its infancy, can you say something about serious relationships between a Muslim young woman with religious parents and a Christian young man with the same? Mind you that I have received advice from other Christians to “stop the relationship immediately.”

FATHER JOE: The Archdiocese of Washington tried to impose a moratorium on Catholic-Muslim weddings a number of years ago. Given that such marriages have an extremely high failure rate, as much as 90%, such relationships are very problematical. I would advise against such dating. Respecting practicing Muslims and having romantic relationships must be distinguished. The former is admirable, the latter is precarious. It is best not to allow such things to heat up. If the young lady wants to convert to Christianity that would change the dynamics in their favor; however, she might face alienation from her family. Indeed, in some countries a conversion of this sort could bring imprisonment, torture or even death.

JESSICA:

How can the “Vicar of Christ’s” actions be justified? The Quran, Surah 4:157 it states:

YUSUFALI: That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”; but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not.

He kissed a book that undermines all of Christianity. Without the Death and Resurrection of JESUS CHRIST there is no Christianity or Catholicism. Or for that matter no “Vicar of Christ.” And this was done by a man who claims to be infallible? And yes I do sound upset, because I was Catholic, I went through RCIA twice. Two times because I wanted to learn as much as I could before I agreed to accept the teachings of Catholicism. Given the history of the church, etc. there was a lot to accept. But John Paul II’s actions were…. I can understand him wanting to make peace with the Iraqi peoples, or stepping into a Mosque, even accepting a Quran. But kissing the Quran? No. And no I do not believe that he is Muslim, or accepted Islam. I believe he is Catholic. But he sinned. He went against GOD. The one question that I ask is WWJD?

FATHER JOE:

It seems that upon this question I must continually return to cover old ground. No Christian contests that the Koran is a non-Christian book which speaks against many of the tenets of our faith. Not only does it deny the redemptive work of Christ but also his divinity. Further, despite an inconsistency in its remarks, there are sections which disparage Christians and admit violence against them for purposes of conversion. It is quite clear from the late Pope’s books, letters and talks that he believed and taught the Christian kerygma. That is why there is silliness to such debates as this. The question that anti-Catholic fundamentalists and sedevacantist traditionalists ignore is this: Given that the Pope is a Christian, why did he kiss the book? It was no action of apostasy. Rather, it was a gesture of respect and benignity to his visitors and world Islam. Any legitimate answer brings us back to the fact that the Pope is both a religious leader and a head of state. Christians must seek to live in peace with the world’s one billion plus Muslims. What would you have had the Pope do, throw the book back into the faces of his guests? Would you have preferred that he spat upon it? While it may not be our custom, gifts are traditionally kissed. Men even kiss men in parts of the Middle East and Orient. Place yourself for a moment into the cultural setting of the Islamic representatives. The Koran signified their greatest treasure. It stood for them and their identity as a people. The Pope’s gesture said to them, that despite our differences and difficult past history, we love you and want to live in peace with you. The tactics of the past meant both adversity and bloodshed. What would Jesus do? While we can argue prudential actions, I think he would seek the same aims as the Holy Father. The Pope is the visible head of the Church and Christ is the invisible head. The Pope is the Vicar of Christ. What would Jesus do? I think that in the Pope we have already seen it. However, modern day Pharisees and scribes are aghast and filled with hypocritical rebuke and disdain. Just as Jesus was rejected by his own for association with tax collectors, sinners and gentiles; the Holy Father was slandered for reaching out to the great historical enemies of Christianity. As an aside, your comment confuses infallibility with impeccability. Within certain constraints, and regarding faith and morals, Popes are infallible but not necessarily sinless. The Popes even have priest confessors.

If you were a convert who has since left Catholicism, then you apparently could not think and believe with the mind of the Church on other matters, too. I will keep you in prayer that you might one day return to the safe harbor of faith… before it is too late. We know how you feel about the Koran, but I would urge you to read the writings of the late Pope and his successor. You might take special benefit from the Bible, particularly the Gospels, and the universal catechism. The latter work was promulgated under the pontificate of Pope John Paul II. Since you have spent time reading the Koran, you should at least spend a little time reading the Church’s books. It is funny in a way. You condemn the Pope for kissing the outside of a book while you evidently opened the Koran and read a portion of it. The latter was once an offense given that the Koran was on the Index of Forbidden Books. What would Jesus do? Jesus will never abandon (as you have) the Church that he founded.

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31 Responses

  1. FATHER JOE:

    This comment is non-topical to the posting. It is simply anti-Catholic spamming. The negative information is largely cut-and-pasted from other sites.

    LAURENCE:

    TO CLAIM TO BE THE MOUTH OF THE ALMIGHTY HOLY CREATOR ON EARTH BASED ON AN INVENTED MAN MADE AUTHORITY, FROM THIS LINEAGE IS A DISGUSTING BLASPHEMOUS, SPIRITUAL ATROCITY.

    FATHER JOE:

    The authority of Peter is given by Christ and passed down through the Church. Condemning this lineage is a rebuke of Christ and his providence over the Church. The blasphemy is yours. The spiritual protection over the popes would not make them all holy; rather, it was to insure that the faith would be properly transmitted and lived out down through the ages.

    Matthew 16:18-19: “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. l I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

    LAURENCE:

    Young’s Literal Translation – “it behoveth, therefore, the overseer to be blameless, of one wife a husband, vigilant, sober, decent, a friend of strangers, apt to teach,…” (1 Timothy 3:2).

    FATHER JOE:

    Today we might interpret the word “overseer” as a slave master. That is really not what the text here is discussing. The reference to the elders or bishops is that they be suitable witnesses to the community. Christianity was new and there was the natural tendency to select their religious shepherds from their civic leaders. Some of them were married but there is evidence that many of them practiced perfect continence after becoming bishops and priests. The discipline of celibacy would later make this sacrifice easier to follow.

    LAURENCE:

    Pope Sergius III obtained the papal office by murder. He lived openly with a woman who bore him several illegitimate children. His reign began a period known as “the rule of the harlots.”

    FATHER JOE:

    The allegation here goes beyond the certain facts. Consecrated in 904 and died in 911, most of what we know comes from the bias reports of his adversaries. Put forward for the papacy in 898, he failed to get elected and went into retirement. Unhappy that Christopher had taken the papacy by violence; the Romans imprisoned him and asked Sergius to take his place. He declared the ordinations by Formosus as null. Allegations that Sergius placed his two predecessors (Leo V and Christopher) to death or that he had relations with Marozia resulting in an illegitimate son (Pope John XI) are very dubious. The last charge was not made until fifty years after the death of the Pope. Such lies were told to damage his legacy and stand in conflict with what his trusted contemporaries said of him. He expanded the Church in England, defended the Filioque clause against errors of the Eastern churches and restored the Lateran Basilica. The so-called “rule of the harlots” had to do with the emergence of strong or influential women upon the world scene (Theodora, and her daughter Marozia, the mother of Pope John XI). This was viewed by a chauvinistic world as a reversal of the natural order.

    LAURENCE:

    Pope John XII was an immoral man and whose palace was likened to a brothel. The bishop of Cremona, Luitprand said, “No honest lady dared to show herself in public, for Pope John had no respect either for single girls, married women, or widows – they were sure to be defiled by him, even on the tombs of the holy apostles, Peter and Paul.” Pope John XXII was said to have seduced and violated three hundred nuns. He must have had a strong and insatiable libido for he kept a harem of no less than two hundred girls. He was called “the most depraved criminal who ever sat on the papal throne.” A Vatican record says this about him, “His lordship, Pope John, committed perversity with the wife of his brother, incest with holy nuns, intercourse with virgins, adultery with the married, and all sorts of sex crimes… wholly given to sleep and other carnal desires, totally adverse to the life and teaching of Christ… he was publicly called the Devil incarnate.”

    FATHER JOE:

    The younger Alberic was the absolute ruler at Rome and he made the Roman nobles promise that upon the next vacancy they would elect his son, Octavius to the papacy. He took office in 955 at the age of 18. This reunited the spiritual and temporal authority of Rome in one person. It is true that he was a coarse and immoral man. The Ecclesiastical States were occupied and war erupted with Pope John XII allied with the German King Otto I (made emperor). However, he later sought to betray the emperor. Bishop Liutprand of Cremona (quoted above) was part of the emperor’s entourage. The Roman nobles promised that no future pope would be elected or consecrated without the emperor’s consent. A synod of fifty Italian and German bishops was convened at St. Peter’s to censure Pope John XII. The Pope was accused of sacrilege, simony, perjury, murder, adultery, and incest, and was summoned in writing to defend himself. The pope refused to meet with them or to recognize their authority. The emperor exposed the pope’s betrayal of their alliance and the synod deposed him. A layman was elected, ordained and consecrated as Pope Leo VIII. However, canons were violated and most regarded his pontificate as invalid. Insurrection broke out and the new Leo VIII fled. Pope John XII retaliated against the churchmen who opposed him. Many good Catholic bishops suffered greatly to bring healing to the Church. In 964 there was another synod at St. Peter’s where Pope Leo VIII was declared invalid and he and all who elected him were excommunicated. The emperor had defeated Berengarius and was going to re-enter Rome when Pope John XII died (May 14, 964).

    Both the civil authorities and churchmen did what they could against a bad man who had taken the papacy. However, note that as bad as he was personally, no heretical teachings were introduced against the deposit of faith. We are told that he acted as if he were not a churchman at all and had little concern for spiritual or religious affairs. The Holy Spirit protected the Church, yes even when the worse of men were given roles as shepherds. Such situations as this is why the conclave system with cardinals was created, to have a more organized selection and to take it away from the control of the Roman nobility or other civil authorities.

    LAURENCE:

    Pope Boniface VIII maintained his position through lavish distribution of stolen money. He was quoted saying, “to enjoy oneself and lie carnally with women or with boys is no more a sin than rubbing one’s hands together.”

    FATHER JOE:

    I can well appreciate that you are citing bigoted and ignorant sources. However, in doing so, you commit the sin of false witness against a dead brother Christian. There are bad popes, but the most for which one might fault Pope Boniface would be his tact and temper. You are like the old lecherous men lying and bring condemnation to the pure Susanna (Daniel 13).

    This citation is a calumnious slander of a Pope who was wholly orthodox, albeit with a quick temper and an emphasis upon papal temporal authority that would cause an escalation of tensions with ambitious kings and princes. He hoped that the papacy might become a source for European unity. King Philip of France instead saw him instead as an obstacle to his influence and the finances required for waging war. The words quoted here are those of his enemies, seeking to belittle the Pope, in order to justify their disobedience and later the attack upon his person which would no doubt speed his death. After his death (1303), the French would have their way with the wrongful relocation of the papacy to Avignon (1309).

    The French Council of State was called to an extraordinary session (12 March, 1303) and Guillaume de Nogaret appealed to Philip, declaring Pope Boniface an intruder, false pope, a simonist, robber, and heretic. The Pope had insisted that the clergy could not be taxed without his approval. He had also promulgated the papal bull (1302) Unam Sanctam, where the Pope stipulated that it “is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman pontiff.” Lies were made up to discredit the Pope and to undermine his authority. When an assembly was called on June 13 at the Louvre in Paris to investigate the charges, the papal legate was imprisoned to prevent a response. It was a packed court. Aligned with Philip, Guillaume de Plaisians asked for a General Council and made 29 charges against the Pope. No credible historian today takes the charges seriously. It was loaded with every sin that could be imagined: infidelity, heresy, simony, gross and unnatural immorality, idolatry, magic, loss of the Holy Land, death of Celestine V, etc. That August, Boniface cleared himself by his solemn oath of the charges brought against him at Paris. He saw it for what it was, an attempt to erode his Apostolic authority.

    In 1303, King Philip sent an army led by Nogaret and Sciarra Colonna to arrest Pope Boniface while on retreat Anagni. The Pope refused to resign. They sought to drag him back to France to face a council and trial on the trumped charges. The Pope responded with great courage and faith: “Since I am betrayed like the Savior, and my end is nigh, at least I shall die as Pope.” Thereupon he ascended his throne, clad in the pontifical ornaments, the tiara on his head, the keys in one hand, a cross in the other, held close to his breast. Confronting the angry men-at-arms, he looked down upon the Colonnas, saying, “Here is my head, here is my neck; I will patiently bear that I, a Catholic and lawful pontiff and Vicar of Christ, be condemned and deposed by the Paterini [heretics]; I desire to die for Christ’s faith and His Church.” While the story was spread that he killed himself by “gnawing through his own arm” and “bashing his skull into a wall,” the exhumation of the body showed no signs of such treatment. He went three days without food or water. Those who allowed the Pope’s capture regretted it. And the invaders were repelled and the Pope returned to Rome (September 13). But his spirit and health had been compromised. He died on October 11 after taking the sacraments and making the profession of faith.

    LAURENCE:

    Pope Sixtus IV financed his wars by selling church offices to the highest bidders. He used the papacy to enrich himself and his family, for no less than eight cardinals were his nephews, some being given the position of cardinal even as a boy.

    FATHER JOE:

    Francesco della Rovere was born of poor parents in 1414. Destined from his you for the Franciscans, he showed great success at his philosophical and theological studies. A scholar, he was made a cardinal in 1467. The conclave assembled on the death of Pope Paul II elected him pope under the name Sixtus IV.

    The wars mentioned in the quote were to win back the Eastern churches of Turkey. However, he could not enkindle sufficient interest in a new crusade. There continued tension with France where papal decrees could only be promulgated with royal consent.

    Problems emerged, as the quote suggests, with nepotism. The Pope’s nephew, Cardinal Rafael Riario, sought to overthrow the Medici of Florence. To his credit, he placed Florence under interdict for the assasinations of Giuliano de’ Medici. A two year war erupted with Florence. Ferrara found allies among the Italian princes and they forced the pope to make peace.

    The ramifications of favors for family stained his legacy as pope. Despite the deference given to personal family members, he made 23 cardinals representative of the many important families: Giuliano della Rovere, Stefano Nardini, Pedro Gonsalvez de Mendoza, Giovanni Battista Cybo (later Pope Innocent VIII), Giovanni Arcimboldi, Philibert Hugonet, Giorgio da Costa, Charles de Bourbon l’ancien, Pierre de Foix le jeune, Girolamo Basso della Rovere, Gabriele Rangoni, Pietro Foscari, Juan of Aragon, Raffaele Sansoni Riario, Domenico della Rovere, Paolo Fregoso, Giovanni Battista Savelli, Giovanni Colonna, Giovanni Conti, Juan Moles de Margarit, Giovanni Giacomo Sclafenati, Giovanni Battista Orsini and Ascanio Maria Sforza-Viscon.

    However, again as evidence as how God can use weak instruments for his will, Pope Sixtus IV suppressed the abuses of the Inquisition. A patron of the arts, he had the famous Sistine Chapel built and he renovated the library. The living conditions of Rome improved. The Pope was blameless in his private life despite the charges of his enemies. He enriched the Church for the ages.

    LAURENCE:

    Pope Pius II was said to have been the father of many illegitimate children. He spoke openly of the methods he used to seduce women and he encouraged young men to also seduce women and even offered to instruct them in methods of self-indulgence.

    FATHER JOE:

    Here again we have slander, for while he was indulgent in his youth and had two illegitimate children, he later reformed his life prior to taking holy orders. One cannot fault his pontificate for the sins of youth any more than we could condemn St. Augustine, who also had an illegitimate son and mistress while unconverted. He attempted to get the European nations on his side to liberate Europe from the Turks and extend the faith. But they were not interested.

    LAURENCE:

    Pope Alexander VI won the election of the papacy by bribery. He lived with a woman with whom he had a daughter; whom afterward he committed incest with and produced five children. He also lived in public incest with his two sisters. He conducted a sex orgy in the Vatican in which he had a banquet featuring fifty nude girls who danced and serviced the guests – and even offered prizes to the man who could engage in sexual intercourse the most times.

    FATHER JOE:

    The citation above is still another exaggeration. Much of the pope’s personal immorality extended prior to his papacy, although he did nothing to hide his children. After an attempt against him by people he trusted, he drew his family closer to him. The Borgias became the stuff of legend. The charge that he might have paid bribes (simony) for the papacy is possible but there is no concrete evidence that he did so. He won by one vote, his own. The election was judged valid. He had four children prior to his elevation to the See of Peter in 1492. He immediately pressed for law and order in Rome and swift justice was handed out to criminals and murderers. There were all sorts of fortifications and renovations made. He had written a defense of the Christian faith while he was a cardinal. He raised the enmity of Spain for refusing to banish or exile the Jews. He sent the first missionaries to the new world. His involvement with his family (nepotism) and national alliances must be judged in the negative and worked heavily against his reputation. There would be no apologists for him. God still did good things through him. But history has assuredly judged him as a wicked Pope.

  2. LAURENCE: “A self-proclaimed prophet with a history of satanically inspired false doctrine, murder and licentiousness, in the name of God and then there’s Islam.”

    FATHER JOE: Wow, that is quite a self-confession. Priests and bishops are called by God and that calling is authenticated by the Church. So you are a “self-proclaimed” prophet. In that case I guess you were never commissioned or ordained for a church. You just made yourself a mouthpiece for what you thought was the truth. Now you realize it was all lies. Alleluia! There is still time for you, Laurence, to repent and come to Christ and his Church. Give up your Satanism and come to a personal and corporate faith in Jesus Christ. The Popes and the Catholic Church proclaim Jesus Christ, although there are certain bigots who attack us just as they claimed that Jesus did his work by the power of demons. Ask God’s grace to wean you away from the devil. There is still time. You do not have to remain a false prophet. End the blasphemy. You can even enter adult religious education classes and learn the real truth about Catholicism, not the lies of bigots and fallen away clergy. We will even give you a bible and teach you how to read and interpret it. I will be praying for you. God bless!

  3. I understand your points, Fr. and agree with some. And above all I agree we should all work to lessen scandal instead of fan the flames.

    Thanks for your blog and answering Pope Benedict’s call to use social media. Have a great one.

  4. I want to chime back in (it’s been a while) and say this isn’t about hate for people, but love for Jesus and His Church! The Koran is not a Holy book and it has parts (minus the Torah) which are of demonic origin. There is no other explanation for it.

    What is at question isn’t Saint John Paul II’s intentions, but the element of scandal. Did scandal happen by this? I can definitely say “yes” because I’ve personally experienced it. In my opinion, this should have never happened. That is not an indictment on the Pope, but an opinion.

    FATHER JOE:

    But we could have had a part in putting out the fires of scandal. Some have fanned the flames. Almost anything can be scandalous. How dare Jesus associate with tax collectors and sinners! How dare Jesus let this woman get away with adultery when she deserved to be stoned? How dare Jesus talk alone with a wicked Samaritan woman? How dare Jesus break the Sabbath by performing miracles and healings? Who does Jesus think he is in forgiving sins?

    I agree that the Koran is not an inspired book. It is filled with errors and when Pope Benedict challenged its passages for forced conversions and holy war, millions of Moslems shouted “Death to the Pope!” Pope John Paul II placed no faith in this book. He kissed it as he kissed the ground or dirt in the nations he visited. But no explanation will satisfy. And, for some if not you, the criticism is about hatred for people. Anti-Catholics hate the Church, her leaders and her faithful people. As for Catholics, despite the command to love enemies and forgive those who hurt us, there are those who have a rabid hatred for Moslems. While I have moderated comments, I have even had people write me that the Pope should have torn the Koran to shreds in front of his visitors and declared a crusade. One even wrote that the West should eradicate whole populations with our nuclear weapons. We already see enough of the “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth” in what is going on between Israel and the Gaza. Now with ISIS we see militant Islam on the march once again. Hundreds of thousands of lives are at stake, maybe millions, and here we are arguing about a dead pope who kissed a book in the hope for a peace the world has yet to see.

  5. TANTUMBLOGO:

    Before I begin, I fully agree that this act had no doctrinal import. Pope Saint JPII was not kissing the Koran to endorse a false religion. He was not embracing error. I am certain he did not intend to cause scandal.

    Having said that from the prudential standpoint, this act was extremely damaging. It gave so much ammunition to the enemies of Christ’s Holy Church on all sides, and has given great scandal to many faithful. The photo you chose is closely cropped; it does not show the faces of Muslim men in attendance in full garb, leering in approval. The full photos are even more scandalous.

    FATHER JOE:

    A cardinal apparently stands on one side of him and a Moslem is on the other. Tariq Aziz also visited the Pope from Iraq, making a spiritual retreat and pleading for peace prior to the U.S. invasion. Aziz is a Chaldean Catholic and as president was the highest ranking Catholic in that part of the world. Today, the Catholic and Coptic community is destroyed and on the run. Everything that Saint John Paul II feared has come to pass. His reception and gesture was a plea for peace. In Mosul, this past weekend was the first time in 1,600 years that no Mass was celebrated. The gesture of the Holy Father was a sign of respect to his visitors, not a credo gesture to the Koran. If there is a sin, it belongs to those who refuse to understand this and who slander the late Pope. Who was involved with this delegation? Raphael Bidawid, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans (Christian), a Shiite imam of Khadum mosque and the Sunni President of the council of administration of the Iraqi Islamic Bank and also a representative of the Iraqi ministry of religion.

    card

    We must be very careful in any interpretation of the gestures or faces of the delegation. This may reflect our cultural bias or even open us up to charges of racism. I have seen the photos and discern no enmity. When much of the Western world was rushing to war, the Pope was the one world leader who objected to the coming invasion. They came to him, the one vocal advocate for peace. I remember Mike Novak (as an American emissary from the president) came back to the U.S. upset, having tried to convince the Pope that an invasion would satisfy Catholic just-war theory. The Pope was not convinced. The Moslem delegation was also made up of desperate men. They knew full well that other followers of Islam would condemn them as traitors for just visiting with the Pope. The Holy Father knew the personal price they would pay for their meeting. He showed them curtesy but as understood by their mindset, not ours. We might disagree prudentially with the gesture, but the Pope’s critics would go far beyond this.

    mos1

    TANTUMBLOGO:

    It is possible for a prudential, non-doctrinal act to be sinful.

    FATHER JOE:

    If an act has no standing with Catholic doctrine or teaching, then prudential or not, how can it be a sin? Remember all sin requires three elements: knowledge of the wrong, free intent and sinful matter. The Pope intended no wrong, did not desire to commit a sin, and the simple act or gesture of kissing a book (as the symbol of a people) is not sinful matter. The Holy Father had a doctorate in philosophy. He was aware of these conditions. Was it a mistake? This is the most that one can argue. But like other possible accidents, there is no culpability. He committed no sin and there was no heresy. The Pope did not espouse Moslem teachings and dismiss the Gospel. Speculation to the contrary is dishonest, at least from Catholics. When they do so, they become bedfellows with the anti-Catholics who exploited the photo.

    TANTUMBLOGO:

    People do it all the time. If I abuse myself, knowing it is wrong, I am not a heretic, but I am a sinner.

    FATHER JOE:

    Your analogy does not follow. Abusing oneself conflicts with Catholic moral teaching. Depending upon what type of abuse and the element of addiction, this would constitute a form of heretical sadism. Here we have sinful matter, free will or intent and you know you are violating Catholic teaching about the dignity of the human person. Sorry, this would indeed make it a sin.

    TANTUMBLOGO:

    Did Pope Saint John Paul II sin by kissing the Koran? That’s a much tougher question than whether he committed heresy. We do not know what was in his heart. But sin can be committed even with the right intention. Unintentional scandal, when looked at objectively and with a reasonable point of view, can be sinful if the fact of scandal could be reasonably expected. A woman who wears an immodestly short skirt to Mass, even if she does not intend to scandalize, is still guilty of immodesty and giving scandal to others. I think in this case, the reaction of many people within and without the Church could be anticipated by a reasonable person, and certainly by a Pope.

    FATHER JOE:

    This is largely false and does not reflect Catholic teaching. In other words, it is the commission, even if inadvertent, of heresy (to use your term) in regard to morality. No one can accidentally sin. No one can sin without knowing it. A distinction is made between sinful acts and evil acts. All sinful acts are evil but not all evil is sinful. Moral evil has to do with the acts of men. It may happen that men will commit wrong but be unaware and intend to do good acts. There is also natural evil; this includes events like earthquakes, volcanoes and floods. Unintentional scandal is even offered by you in questioning a pope and now saint of the Church. However, unless there is a secret animus or agenda against the Holy Father and/or the post Vatican II Church, then you are not sinning. Or am I wrong? Anti-Catholic bigots who refuse to look at all the facts and to the extent that they know their deception, actually commit sin. A silly girl who does not appreciate that her scanty dress is an occasion of sin does wrong but does not commit sin (if she is honestly so naïve). However, I suspect that most such girls know that immodesty is wrong and still choose to commit sin. She is most probably guilty, at least of a venial transgression.

    TANTUMBLOGO:

    I am not, of course, in the position to judge Pope Saint JPII’s soul. He has earned his reward. Even if he did sin in this case, apparently, it was not sufficiently grave to prevent his entrance into Heaven. But I think you err on the side of deference to the Office too much when you make this action solely about doctrine, and less about prudence and scandal. There is a vast range of highly destructive actions that can be taken by a pope, bishop, priest, or lay person that have no effect on doctrine whatsoever. And to many, this act is one of the most scandalous they have ever encountered. God bless you!

    FATHER JOE:

    Are you even in a position to judge a Pope’s prudential decisions? Catholics must always give the benefit of the doubt to the Pope. This was a comparatively small matter. And yet, look at how the enemies of the Church and her so-called friends jumped all over it. I think you commit serious errors in failing to give deference to the Holy See and in your analysis of what constitutes sin and evil. I suspect that many who make much of the incident suffer from a lack of charity, not only to the non-Christian world, but to the late Pope. I may disagree with the symbolic gesture myself, but I can well understand what the Pope sought to do. He was a true diplomat, able to deal with the Communists on one hand and seeking to extend an olive branch to Moslems with the other. There are too few men like him in the world. It is all so easy for us to hate… and here I mean more than a book, but the people it signified. I suppose that is why we remain in a world racing to war.

  6. It is hard to believe that so many who are ignorant will not die ignorant; it is obvious when we hear Christians speak about the only Quran.

    FATHER JOE: You are free to have your opinion. Christians feel that they have the truth and it is certainly better backed up by history than Islam.

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